Skip Rock Ranch combines great genetics, low stress handling, proper nutrition, and a small town butcher shop to provide better beef at a great value. It is a healthy, sustainable farm to table concept in which you are an active participant.
When we were growing up, we didn't go to the grocery store to buy meat on a styrofoam tray, shrink wrapped in plastic. Mom went to the butcher at Franka's Grocery Store in El Campo, Texas, where she selected our dinner, and Mr. Polasek wrapped in front of us. Out of economy, many folks would order a side of beef from the butcher and have it cut to order. Over time, our family moved into buying all of our meat from the grocery store on those yellow styrofoam trays. Maybe it was just more convenient and not too much more expensive at the time. We probably thought it was "progress."
Now we live in an age of factory farms with slaughter facilities that process hundreds of thousands of cattle a year. Cattle are finished in feedlots using steroids, antibiotics, hormones, and fed diets that are far from what Mother Nature ever intended. In Texas, more of our beef is now coming from feedlots and slaughter plants in Mexico, Australia, and South America. Meat is packaged with additives and preservatives to extend shelf life. If you are what you eat, we are now doing something incredibly wrong for our children's health.
We wanted to get away from the factory farm concept and simply raise cattle, just like our Grandpa did in the 1950's. Back then, cattle ate grass, without added steroids or hormones, and the feedlot system wasn't the only option. Skip Rock Ranch is not reinventing the wheel. We are just going back to the way it was done just a few decades ago. Our goal is simple: We want one of our ribeye steaks to be just like a steak from 1955.
Our approach is simple. We have Devon bulls and Angus/Devon cross cows. Our calves are born on the ranch. We also purchase select Irish Dexter steers from reputable ranches and raise them with our herd. At that point, they have been raised only on grass and their mother's milk. For the next two years, they live at our ranch near Pearsall, Texas. Our cattle graze in the pastures just like cattle have lived for millennia. They are never given steroids, hormones or antibiotics. Finally, our herd is managed using humane, low stress livestock handling techniques developed by animal behavior pioneers such as Temple Grandin and Bud Williams.
It's quite easy to raise grass fed cattle, the hard part is finding a good butcher. In the 1980's we had 3 butchers within 20 minutes of El Campo, TX where Lee and I grew up. All three have closed their doors. Today, most of the mom and pop butchers have gone out of business. There are none left in Austin, and only a handful remain in Central Texas. There are great butchers still around, you just have to seek them out. We use Dziuk's Meat market in Castroville, TX, just west of San Antonio on Hwy 90.
When your steer is 24-30 months old, we will deliver it to Dziuk's. Then, you get to decide exactly how you want your meat custom butchered, just like our family did when we were kids.
It is possible that some of this is simply a nostalgic desire for the way things used to be in a simpler time. That is part of it. Mainly it is a backlash reaction to the way our food is raised and processed today in America.